People are funny. Look at this grand estate. This is the Vanderbilt National Historic Site, a beautiful mansion along the banks of the Hudson River in Hyde Park, New York. It was the home of one of the famed Vanderbilt’s- namely Frederick, one of the older siblings of George Vanderbilt, who made his way out of the Northeast to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and built the phenomenal Biltmore House.
We learned on our tour of this home that owners Frederick and Louise Vanderbilt struggled to fit into “Gilded Age” high society, because their money was not “old” enough.
The mindset of the Gilded Age is fascinating, as people tried desperately to impress each other with their fortunes, mansions, and family lines. Unfortunately, I don’t think we are much different today.
“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3.
I’ll be honest. I’m glad I don’t fit into the ranks of society’s finest. It’s way too much trouble to impress people, and even if you manage to, it only lasts for a moment. Living to please God is so much more rewarding.
I love how Scripture actually turns this philosophy of living to impress on its head. Not only does it implore us not to seek to impress people; it instructs us to think of others as better than ourselves! To be impressed by them. Not in a “worldly” kind of way, but in a way in which their needs are impressed upon our hearts and minds, so that we might aid and encourage them.
Now, that’s a radical way to live, and it doesn’t come naturally. It comes only from being yielded to God and sensitive to His leading. By having the mind of Christ, we can put ourselves and our own needs aside for the sake of others. As we learn this new mindset, however, we will discover that it will bring so much more joy to our lives.